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Sprint to Slice 800 Customer Service Jobs

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Replying to:  the fewer resulting calls to its customer service representatives. by Haggard   Aug 27, 2013, 2:21 PM

I agree

by Zpike    Aug 27, 2013, 9:53 PM

I have to say I completely agree with Haggard on this one. I busted my butt in a call center for three years only to have it outsourced to India. And here are a few things I learned from the experience.

1. Illiterate Americans type very differently from illiterate foreigners. I read a plenty of support tickets from a large number of different people and I always knew what kind of person was responsible for the notes I was reading. It even got to the point that I could read part of a ticket and know whose it was without ever checking the agent's name. There are elements of written language that are just as distinct as an accent in a spoken language. The person in the thread who thought otherwise has obviously spent very little time reading tickets in a call center.

2. Support from India is worse than support from other foreigners. IBM was one of the printer vendors we used. There was a time when I would call into IBM and they had a group dedicated to servicing printers for my company. So, we always talked to the same three or four Canadians. They had their different personalities and some were more of a stickler than others, but we always knew what to expect and how to resolve the issue. But eventually IBM outsourced that group to India. I think that was also a group of three or four people too, but it was hard to tell because they picked a different American name every time we called. But you could tell some of them were the same person because the voice was the same, they asked the same peculiar questions, and consistently got hung up on the same issues. Needless to say it became next to impossible to resolve a printer issue with IBM. Issues that normally took 15 min turned into hours or even days over multiple phone calls. We just didn't have these problems with Canadians.

3.Good support from India is worse than bad support from America. I honestly don't know how some of my coworkers kept their jobs over the three years I was there. Some of them just told customers some of the most patently stupid stuff I've ever heard, and were even dumb enough to document that stupidity in their tickets. I don't know how many hot button issues were exacerbated by utter incompetence and turned into embarrassing disasters for my department. But even working in the middle of what seemed like an ocean of morons at times, my department managed to keep our customers daily operations humming along. If a customer's server had been down for two days it was a top priority. A server was never down for more than four days unless a natural disaster had hit the entire area and it was utterly out of our control. Typically a server wasn't down more than a day. Once it got outsourced to India, average down time for a server was three weeks. I think that statistic speaks for itself.

4. From a financial perspective, chat makes much more sense. Whenever I took calls, it was hard to balance more than three issues at once, and I usually didn't work more than two unless there were going to be very long pauses on the first two calls. But when I worked chat, it was much easier to balance 5 or 6 at a time. I can honestly say the level of service I gave in chat was much less, but from a departmental perspective it was much more productive, resolving more issues in the same period of time. In fact, during peak call times we would have upwards of 50 techs manning the phones, but we never needed more than three to cover chats. Granted, we didn't get the same volume of chat tickets either. But it was very clear that if we hadn't been shipped off to India first, much of what we were doing was going to be replaced by chat as the company pushed harder for customers to use that avenue and made it increasingly more visible.

TL;DR

From my own call center experience, outsourcing to India is always a bad idea. It will eventually cost companies that do it, just ask Dell. Replacing phone support with chat support is not the same level of service, but it can save a company a lot of money and isn't as bad as outsourcing to India. Outsourcing chat support to India is just plain stupid, and can never be a win.

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